Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois Humanities will not be accepting new applications to the Odyssey Project at this time. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Since it is currently not safe to meet in-person, all Odyssey Project activities, including our alumni programming and the second year course for students who graduated this past May 2020, are currently scheduled to take place remotely. For more information please contact Rebecca Amato, Director of Teaching and Learning, at

If you are interested in applying to the Odyssey Project for the 2021-2022 academic year, which will begin in August of 2021, please provide your contact information here and we will follow up with you. Thank you.


As a result of our current public health crisis, Illinois Humanities has postponed the Odyssey Project graduation ceremony, originally scheduled for May 3rd at the National Museum of Mexican Art. We are committed to celebrating the sixty-two graduates who completed the Odyssey Project and Sojourner Scholars this year and will reschedule the graduation ceremony when it is safe to do so.

In the meantime, please join us in celebrating the Odyssey Project and Sojourner Scholars Class of 2020:

Alberta Craig
Alisha Webster
Alisha Williams
Althea A. Fowler-Miller
Amanda McKenzie
Andrea Lowe
Anna Tracy
Anthony Williams
Audrey Forrest
Barbara Ann Jimerson
Bernita Winters
Beth Nicholls
Brady Safford
Carlita Dabbs
Chamberlon Clark
Cheryl Mance
Colleen Curry
Courtney Kay
Crystal Madinah
Haro Fuentes
Jazmin Bernal
Jessica Bernal
Jessie Padilla
Jesus Carrillo
Jose Cornejo
José Pérez
José Sandoval
Josephine Horace-Jackson
Kahari Blackburn
Karen Alvarez
Kenyana (Tasha) Johnson
Kim Redmond
Kimberly Buckmaster
Larry Queen
Lavenia Malone
Luz Zavala
Marcus Rogers
Margaret Taiwo
Maria Beltran
Marti Price
Mary Trina Juárez
Milo Bosh
Mireille Uwase
Nora Taylor
Pamela Davis
Paxton Murphy
Rebecca Taylor
Rodney Jones
Satchel Stokes
Shenae Morgan
Sofía Portillo
Sylvia Fedrick
Vincent Romero

Sojourner Scholars 
Kaliyah Harris
Ladeja Canady-Lewis
Marshai Bradley
Myeisha Henderson
Nyesha Erskin
Patrick Rance
Rasehid Harvey
Valerie Jackson

The Odyssey Project

Students enrolled in The Odyssey Project will take courses in literature, philosophy, U.S. history, art history, and critical thinking and writing from August through April. Upon successful completion of the program, students will earn college credits in the humanities (4 credits each in HUM 110 and HUM 111)  from the University of Illinois at Chicago (all credits earned are fully transferrable).

The Odyssey Project also offers a second-year course, offered in both English and Spanish, for students who are interested in continuing their education in the humanities while earning additional college credits (3 credits in HUM 210) from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Courses are offered in the Chicago neighborhoods of Greater Grand Crossing, Austin, Rogers Park, and Pilsen (taught in Spanish).

The Odyssey Project is part of the national network of Clemente Courses in the Humanities and is offered in conjunction with the University of Illinois at Chicago and with support from  The University of Chicago’s Civic Knowledge Project and Northwestern University’s Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities.

Eligibility and Guidelines

To qualify for The Odyssey Project:

  • You must be 18 years of age or older.

  • Read at an adult level. We do a lot of reading in the program, so being able to read a newspaper in English (or in Spanish for the Spanish Course) is a good measure of reading readiness for this course.

  • Live at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guideline (see the application for income guidelines).

  • You DO NOT currently have a four-year college degree (B.A./B.S.).
  • You CAN join the Odyssey Project if you have outstanding student loans and student loans in default or owe money to a college. We DO NOT use Federal Financial Aid Forms.

  • You CAN join the Odyssey Project if you have not completed your high school degree. 
  • We consider special circumstances if you do not qualify based on the above criteria, so please contact us and/or add a note to your application.

Frequently Asked Questions

The First Year Course

The first-year course provides an interdisciplinary introduction to the humanities through the study of philosophy, art history, literature, U.S. history, and critical thinking and writing. In addition to work in the classroom, students will also have the opportunity to see plays, visit museums, and attend public lectures.

Classes meet twice a week in the evenings from late-August to late-April, and are offered in Chicago’s Greater Grand Crossing, Austin, and Rogers Park neighborhoods. A Spanish version of the first year course is also offered in Pilsen. Upon successfully completing the first year course, students earn eight units of college credits in the humanities (4 credits each in HUM 11o and HUM 111) from University of Illinois at Chicago.

The Second Year Course

The second-year course is open to those students who have successfully completed the first-year course and wish to continue their study of the humanities. In the second-year course, students take one course that meets twice a week from late-August through to mid-December. Upon successful completion of the second year course, students earn an additional three units of college credit in the humanities (HUM 210) from University of Illinois at Chicago. Classes are held in downtown Chicago at the Illinois Humanities’ office (125 South Clark St, Suite 650).

El Proyecto Odisea (Spanish Language Course)

El Proyecto Odisea es un curso al nivel universitario para hispanohablantes, que consiste en cinco clases: Redacción y Pensamiento Crítico, Literatura, Historia, Filosofía e Historia de Arte. Las lecturas asignadas y la discusión en clase son en español. Las clases se reúnen de agosto a abril, dos veces por semana, en Pilsen. Los estudiantes que cumplan con todos los requisitos del curso recibirán 8 horas de crédito universitario.

Cada dos años ofrecemos el Curso de Segundo Año en Español, abierto a los estudiantes que han completado el nivel básico del Proyecto Odisea y que desean profundizar sus estudios de las humanidades. Los estudiantes tomarán dos cursos durante un semestre y se reunirán una vez por semana desde agosto hasta diciembre. Al completar exitosamente el curso, los estudiantes obtendrán 3 créditos universitarios adicionales.

Sojourner Scholars

Sojourner Scholars Summer Humanities Institute provides high school students from four South Side CPS high schools the opportunity to take college level courses with local university and college faculty over the course of three summers, beginning the summer following their freshman year.

During the first two summers of the program, students study literature, U.S. history, philosophy, and art history. In the final summer, students embark upon a research-intensive capstone project that draws upon local, community-based archives and resources.

Upon successfully completing all three summer sessions, students earn eight college credits in the humanities that they can transfer to any two or four-year college or university.

In addition to the summer sessions, year-round programming is available to the students in the form of book groups, art making workshops, field trips, internships, and college advising.

Check out the student site:

Odyssey Project Faculty and Staff